In a period of growing awareness of the impact of all our activities on the natural world and human communities, Imperial War Museums (IWM) has developed a sustainability strategy.

This provides a framework which builds on the progress already made by IWM in these areas and prioritises areas where IWM has the greatest need and the greatest opportunity to change.

The IWM Sustainability strategy contextualises the opportunities for change through six strategic themes which stretch across all IWM activity and beyond into its communities and local environment.

It also acknowledges that IWM can use its platform to magnify it’s impacts and support others in their sustainability journeys.

The following six themes are being used by IWM to help us evaluate and prioritise all the opportunities for change available:

Decarbonisation of the estate 

Decarbonisation is a priority item to meet IWM aspirations, government reporting requirements and targets in response to the climate emergency. 

This theme will build on significant work already underway by projects and operations across a number of IWM departments, but in particular Estates and Projects. IWM is delivering a decarbonisation plan which will combine sourcing, generation and reduction of energy to support UK government targets for decarbonisation.

Responsible consumption

IWM consumes a range of products and services which, through their lifecycle, (before, during and after their time on an IWM site), utilise resources and produce a range of impacts which may or may not contribute to IWM’s sustainability objectives.

IWM has made noteworthy progress in managing its waste streams to ensure significant volumes have been diverted from landfill. Recycling and waste management are energy and resource intensive, so opportunities remain for IWM to further reduce this burden through consuming fewer resources and reducing waste produced as a result.

IWM utilises a range of services which it self-delivers or procures from third parties, improving the efficiency of how these services are utilised and the resources they use will be key to the effective delivery of this strategy.

Local impact

As well as considering the global sustainability impacts of IWM through decarbonisation and resource consumption, IWM will look at its direct impacts across:

  • Its own estate
  • Local communities
  • The public realm

Building the conversation

As an organisation IWM has opportunities to collaborate, lead, promote and share our sustainability agenda.

This theme will also provide the opportunity to magnify the impact of all other IWM sustainability activity by sharing the learnings and outcomes with as many people as possible, particularly those who may be able to use this learning to develop or accelerate their own sustainability journey.

This strategic theme will act as an enabler to all other strategic themes by providing the opportunity to engage with, and learn from, a wide range of stakeholders.

Protection of heritage against a changing climate

The UK climate is changing. This theme involves assessing the effects of both gradual long-term changes and the impact of increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather on the IWM estate, its collections, and operations.

IWM will respond to these changes by developing a gradual adaptation strategy to fulfil its obligations under the UN Sustainable Development goals and other obligations to protect and maintain cultural heritage.

Information intelligence

Requirements for IWM to understand and report its performance shall only increase in the coming years and IWM need to be prepared to respond to this.

This theme shall develop how IWM utilises data relating to sustainability to ensure progress is monitored and resources are used efficiently for maximum impact across all themes.